Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Seanad 'is no longer relevant'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said 'radical change and reform' was needed to bring Ireland into the 21st century

Abolishing the Seanad will create a leaner, more effective and more accountable political system, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has claimed.

Announcing details of a referendum on the scrapping of the upper house of the Oireachtas, the Taoiseach said "radical change and reform" was needed to bring Ireland into the 21st century.

"Ireland simply has too many politicians for its size," Mr Kenny said.

"We must question the very relevance of a second chamber. If the last decade of misrule has proven anything it is that modern Ireland cannot be governed effectively by a political system originally designed for 19th century Britain."

Despite claims from critics that the abolition of the Seanad will allow the Government to run the country with no checks or balances, the Taoiseach insisted there will be more scrutiny and oversight than ever.

He said the Seanad did nothing to challenge the "unattainable policies of the Celtic Tiger", describing it as an "outmoded" and "elitist" institution that is no longer relevant.

The public vote on whether to abolish the upper house, which is made up of senators who are not directly elected by the people, is expected to take place in early October.

Scrapping the Seanad, combined with a reduction in the number of Dail TDs by eight, will cut the number of public representatives by nearly a third.

Mr Kenny said it would also save 20 million euro a year - or 100 million euro per Government term.

Campaigners have described the Government's plans to get rid of the Seanad as "constitutional vandalism". Democracy Matters, which has called for the reform of the Seanad as an alternative to its abolition, said the latter would make an already broken political system more centralised, more whipped and more controlled by Government.

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